How Special, Another Tony Blair Movie

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

 ImageDid the GOP National Committee cast Hope Davis as Hillary Clinton? As Mrs. Tony Blair, Helen McCrory does it again.

Michael Sheen has made a cottage industry out of playing Tony Blair on the screen. The man who puts words in his mouth is Peter Morgan, the brilliant playwright and scriptwriter.

As long ago as 2003 in The Deal, he traced novice Blair as a youthful ruthless politician. Then, Sheen/Blair faced The Queen with an intimidating Helen Mirren buckling under his charms. And, at last that brings us to The Special Relationship in which Sheen plays opposite his American counterpart, Bill Clinton in the personality of Dennis Quaid.

Helen McCrory is around again as Mrs. Blair, caustic and perfect, but her counterpart is Hope Davis, playing Hillary Clinton as if the GOP National Committee had produced the movie.

Dennis Quaid is utterly delightful in his mimicry, downright charming in his downhome honeysuckle. As the Clintons, the Republican Party must be happy to have the Clintoons writ big.

If Mrs. Clinton reaches the White House, perhaps Mrs. Blair can return to Downing Street, and Morgan can give us another movie.

All the imitations are brilliant, but we maintain a soft spot for Sheen’s affable Blair impersonation. We don’t know that there will be another, with Morgan having covered all the ground without a sinkhole.

Sheen took time off from playing Blair to play David Frost in mortal friendship with Richard Nixon in the delightful Frost/Nixon. So, we know what we’re getting in these Morgan historical epics. It’s Beckett without the Murder in the Cathedral.

The idea that important and powerful people are just like us is comforting, though a bit unbelievable. As Scott Fitzgerald often said, the only thing different about the rich is their money.

Not quite, but Peter Morgan certainly goes as far as the man who created Gatsby.

If you like movies, try the reviews and previews of MOVIE MASHUP and MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE. Both volumes are available in softcover and ebook from Amazon.com.

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Unloved One, Disrespected Then and Now

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!Image

 John Gielgud played a dead man twice in 1965, here with his dedicated mortician, Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger) in a scene that has to be seen in The Loved One.

Back in 1965, on the heels of Dr. Strangelove, dark comedy was all the rage.

So, Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One came to be produced. It was a scandalous tale about the funeral industry. And, it billed its tagline as the movie to offend everyone.

The first offense came with Robert Morse, a kind of all-American nerd who played a British national moving to Hollywood. He had so much trouble with his English accent that they had to record his lines and sync them in later.

The rest of the cast is brilliant—from Rod Steiger as Mr. Joyboy, an effeminate mortician, to Liberace as the coffin salesman. The roles seem reversed with those two.

John Gielgud played a dead body for the second time that year (first being in Woman of Straw). He proved to be a pliable and expressive dead man.

The end result resembles the end of Von Aschenbach in Death in Venice.

 

Other notables dot the entire production, making it fun to see the stars doing a cameo turn. Yet, the overall effect is neither offensive, nor witty. As written by Christopher Isherwood and Terry Southern, the tale seems full of sound and fury, written by the cottage industry scripters of the age.

Tony Richardson directed right off his highly entertaining and Oscar winning Tom Jones. He should have quit while he was ahead. But, to see Jonathan Winters in his young prime wanting to shoot the stiffs into outer space is worth every moment. He plays dual roles, becoming an American Peter Sellers here.

When an elderly British artist hangs himself as the studio fires him, his nephew has a Fellini 8&aHalf trip to make the funeral arrangements. Actually the scenes in the Forest Lawn mockup look like Last Year at Marienbad.

The tour of Whispering Glades cemetery takes up a goodly amount of time to the strains of Wagner’s Tristan & Iseult in a Disneyland for the Dead.

Black and white and black comedy all over, it won’t make you laugh, but it will drop your jaw now and then. Whether you like it or not, or whether it is fine cinema or not, you should see it.

For more movie reviews you can count on, read MOVIE MASHUP or MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE, now available on Amazon.com in softcover and e-book formats.

See James Dean Before He is Lost in the Mists of Time

DATELINE: JAMES DEAN

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After viewing the Joshua Tree 1951 movie, we were alerted that on YouTube is a tribute to James Dean on his 82nd birthday in February.

We are loath to take in amateur video compilations, but here we came to realize is something far more professional and brilliant, and it’s available to everyone on the Internet.

ZmaXcharmvill3 is the poster and creator. And the five-minute video has all the earmarks of careful choreography and judicious use of the hundreds of Dean photos and film clips that permeate the blogsphere.

With music by Ryan Star, the tune “Losing Your Memory Now,” at first seems odd—but becomes crystal clear that we are losing James Dean in our collective memory. With books and videos like this one, perhaps he will linger with us a few more years.

Selecting nearly all the quintessential images of Dean, they pop up all around us, showing both Dean’s stunning beauty and sensitivity in a kaleidoscope of familiar and rare images.

By the four-minute mark, we begin to see the acting chops that knocked others off the screen and began a new generation of stylistic performances that linger today among new young actors who may not know how much they owe to James Dean.

ZmaXcharmvill3 uses a color screen test of Dean in full hypnotic mode, looking directly at us—and at each corner of the screen as his life flashes away in swirls of blue smoke.

The director has caught Dean’s essence and provided us with another capstone performance as he plays himself one more time.

With the anniversary of his death by car crash on the horizon at the end of September, we may want to take a few moments to ponder the incredible force that Dean displayed in a few short years and too few movies.

This video is worth every second.

If you want a sense of James Dean’s full impact, you may want to read THE NEXT JAMES DEAN, a look at the original star and all his imitators over the next 25 years. It’s available on Amazon.com in both softcover and e-book versions.

Red Sox Sing San Francisco Blues

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

 

The Red Sox have left first place in San Francisco.

Move over, Tony Bennett and Jeanette MacDonald.

The loveliness of Jose Iglesias seems somehow sadly gay. The glory that was 2004 is of another day. Instead, the Sox have put all the eggs in the Xander basket where little Boegarts gets the starts.

We’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in 2012. And, when the Red Sox will be going home to their city by Mass. Bay, we know the pennant race will hold sway.

Yes, fans, the Sox have left first place in San Francisco. Low pitch in a walk, the ump calls in the winning run with the bases loaded in the ninth. Those little cable games late at night prove to be a big pain.

Oh, to be where little relievers climb halfway to the pennant,,, the morning fog may chill the air, but the Red Sox won’t dare win.

First place waits in Boston above the green and glorious Monster when the Sox end their benighted road tailspin.

Fenway’s Wally will shine for the team. Oh, the ignominy of leaving first-place in San Francisco where Marco Scutaro now resides.

When the chicken wings came home to roost, we were not thinking of you, San Francisco.

We expected the fall to come in October, or perhaps in LA later in the week. It’s time to take the flowers out of your hair, fans.

San Francisco opened that golden gate and the Red Sox bullpen couldn’t the plate. Other places besides first make us love that Bay City a lot less.

 

 If you want to reminisce, you can read RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL. It’s available on Amazon.com in softcover and ebook.

Dempster Renews the Old Feud Between Sox & Yankees

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

 

A week ago we disparaged the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry as a paper tiger.

This week we saw resurrection on a scale that reminded us of a spark we have not seen in a decade or more.

Yes, the bad blood simmered and overflowed at Fenway Park when lynch-mob leader Ryan Dempster decided to plunk Alex Rodriguez.

The only apparent motive for such an action may have to do with player displeasure that the snitching drug-using narcissist has taken the legal loophole right to noose avoidance level.

When Dempster failed in his first attempt to dump one on A-Rod’s leg, he tried again for the spot that has seen worse plunks with a needle.

Once he hit A-Rod, benches emptied and manager Joe Girardi won an Oscar for a man defending his player (whom the front office would like to assassinate).

Will other pitchers decide to bean A-Rod in their dissatisfied anger?  We doubt it. Only the Red Sox pitching staff has the low IQ to take such an action.

If you wait a minute in New England, the weather changes. And, if you hit Rodriguez with a pitch, wait till the next at-bat when he doubles his home run output for the season.

Dempster denied he deliberately dumped his disgust on the Yankee with a clip to the backside.

The sleeping giant of the Red Sox-Yankee bitterness has emerged—in time to knock the Red Sox out of their pennant drive. It’s only history coming up in another episode of As The Stomach Churns.

 

Also available on Amazon.com in the Red Sox history series, RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY presents more evidence on Sox stretch runs.

Emphasis on the Silent D: Django

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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 When two young film buffs indicated to us how much they appreciated the old black & white films of yesteryear, we were suitably impressed with their knowledge and interest.

When they advised us to watch Django Unchained, we felt compelled to agree. This movie, directed by Quentin Tarentino, was not on our original list. We generally do not review movies we suspect will not hold up.

Not to our surprise, Django Unchained is historically inaccurate, but completely in synchronization with the old spaghetti western from which it is borne. On the other hand, it surprised us with its humor. Tarentino won points for closely studying the 1960s Western for its texture and tempo. The presentation is droll.

Riddled with familiar faces made the movie more enjoyable; we had not seen Dennis Christopher or Don Johnson in a few years. We were taken aback that star Leonardo di Caprio took third billing. All in all, the film began to overwhelm our expectations.

This film actually won praise for its satiric lapses. DiCaprio may have had fun with the role, but he seems unlike James Mason in Mandingo, playing his trump card too soon.

We always have a complaint, and ours is that this picture seems to cross Gone With the Wind with Roots—only in terms of length. Why a minor Western fluff needs to press the three-hour envelope is a question only answered by fans of Tarentino? Anachronisms abound, including sunglasses on the cool Django two years before the Civil War (incorrectly dated in the movie).

We shall no doubt see about three more Django sequels, rivaling the length of a TV miniseries. This movie deserves more than a silent ‘D’.

Available on Amazon.com is MOVIE MASHUP and MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE.

Channing Tatum Looks in the Red Sox Mirror

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

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Separated at birth or brothers of the same mother?

 

For weeks now we have been confounded by Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway.  He plays sparingly for the Boston team, but his ubiquitous handsome looks just seemed overly familiar.

Our regular radar for connections had gone Haywire. We felt as if we were on a journey in Britannia to recover The Eagle and facing the race of blue men with Jamie Bell as our best slave boy.

The White House may be down and out, but the Red Sox are in first place and first in the hearts of Red Sox Nation.

Though she may be the man, Lavarnway is not the Son of No One.

We decided to make a 21 Jump Street of faith to resolve our Dilemma. It was time to Step Up and make our decision.

Lavarnway had the distinct look of a man who would suffer the Side Effects of being a second-string catcher.

We have not seen how well Ryan Lavarnway dances—with or without his clothes. Yet, we had a magical moment when Ryan tossed off his helmet and looked for all-the-world like he was about to bump to a version of “It’s Raining Men.”

Yes, it was true. There was an uncanny resemblance to the sexiest man alive (if People Magazine is to be believed).

Ryan Lavarnway, now playing for the Cubs, looks just like Channing Tatum.

For a time this made the Red Sox look like movie central, as we cannot help but see Jeremy Renner whenever we look at Jake Peavy.

If they want a battery of movie stars to play pitcher and catcher in the remake of The Broken Hearts Club with Renner and Tatum lookalikes, they could hire Peavy and Lavarnway and no one would be the wiser.

 

You can read MOVIE MASHUP for more movie insights, or you can read RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL and have fairly much the same experience. Both books are available on Amazon.com.

Brady Takes a Tebow Knee and Everyone Else Prays

 DATELINE: HUMOR!Image

 

Tom Brady relived déjà vu all over again.

Those who know Tom Terrific and his mentality think the notion of post-traumatic syndrome is out of character.

Yet, when Tom Brady went down in practice, grabbing his knee, it was all eerily reminiscent of the year he lost with a torn ACL.

Like the previous horror, Tom walked off the field. Unlike the previous Patriot nightmare, Tom came back to the field and now insists he will play in a pointless preseason game on Friday night.

The bright lights won’t dim for Broadway Tom.

However, the shock and awe has rattled the foundation of the “In Bill We Trust” currency.

The value of the franchise dropped like bric-a-brac tossed at Bill Belichick by Wes Welker.

Tim Tebow, upon seeing Brady go down, dropped to one knee too, though whether his prayers had been answered or ignored, only Tebow’s friend (Big J) knows.

For the remainder of training and into the season, the alarmists and bloggers will watch every twitch and spasm Tom exhibits to trace the fall of the Patriot Empire to this one moment in the franchise history.

NFL insider T.S. Elliot contends, as always, that the career of Tom Cat Brady does not end with a bang, but with a whimper. He has  now changed his famous pronouncement, claiming August (not April) is the cruelest month.

Those pathetic little whimpers were coming out of Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels as he watched the freight train rush out of control and come at his blind-sided future Hall of Fame quarterback.

With disinformation spread like manure by the Patriot fawning media at Gillette, Las Vegas bettors cut their losses immediately with the gambling line.

To read other shocking tales of the Boston NFL franchise, take a look at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS UNDRESSED, now in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon.com.

Rondo Goes Doughboy

ImageDATELINE: HUMOR!

Rajon Rondo may now officially be compared to the Pillsbury Doughboy.

A photo of the usually taut, razor thin, six-pack ab looking Rondo showed him with a decidedly happy, out of shape appearance.

It does not help the off-season regimen to be lunching at a pancake and waffle house. Who knows if he likes doughnuts?

Yet, with his basketball camp now over, the hard-working point guard with an obsessive pride in his shapely torso is wearing one of those air-filled moomoos to cover up a multitude of calories.

Can mercurial Rondo be packing it on?

The appalling Twitter photo now takes center stage as evidence that Indiana pancake houses are a skip and a jump in proximity to running up and down the court in suicidal reps.

Has Rondo discovered the joys of Lipitor?

As the dog days of August continue to yap at the heels of off-season boredom for players, Rondo has not chosen to spend his days with Jared Sullinger in Boston, nor with Kendrick Perkins in Texas.

He is spending his summer hitting sundry pancake making along Route 66. We know that Rondo can shed the doughy poundage with all the aplomb of Robert DeNiro after playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.

Can it be the new Celtics coach, Brad Stevens, has told Rondo to bulk up?

Is it possible Rondo now aspires to be the next Charles Barkley?

Can Rondo find happiness with a knife and fork?

Does Rondo prefer donuts to dollars?

Who ever thought they might mistake Rondo for Big Baby Davis?

The season opens a mere scant two months from now with diets and calorie counting down the pike. Where is this going?

As our parents used to say to us when we were irksome children, “over at Mike’s, next to Jake’s where they make the pancakes.”

We have covered Rondo from the beginning. Read RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR and its sequel RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA, available at Amazon.com in ebook and softcover.

Iglesias Ponies Up to the Bar and Orders a Sloe Boras Fizz

 

DATELINE: HUMOR!Image

No sooner did Jose Iglesias clear out of Dodge City (Boston edition) that he woke up and smelled the coffee.  Never again shall he be undervalued and dismissed as irrelevant.

Yes, the hard-working stiff called up Super Agent Scott Boras and signed on the dotted line.

Growing up in Boston is tough. Iglesias learned the hard way: he was shipped out of town unceremoniously. And no one cared.

He has taken the only revenge befitting a scorned infielder. Iglesias has signed with his satanic majesty.

The Red Sox disdain Boras, and his clients are usually in town on a short-term pass.  Just ask Adrian Beltre.

Anyone with Boras for an agent on the King John Henry VIII payroll is off the Christmas Card list. You can count on the following to be gone next year: Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew.

There but for the grace of a long contract goes Jackie Bradley, Jr., and heretofore .400 hitter, Jose Iglesias.

Those two whippersnappers are tied up until the snow falls in 2017 in owner friendly contracts. Yet, all that is ameliorated by the name of Boras on the contract.

Iglesias heard a noise in Boston on the way out the door, which apparently did hit him on the backside.

After being mishandled and mistreated by the media and a group of thuggish fans that wanted him out of town, Jose has taken the high road to the big bucks. That won’t ever be a Red Sox problem as they will never after this be able to afford him.

After all, he has twice as many home runs as Alex Rodriguez this season so far.

 

Be sure to read RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL for more stories about the dark side of the Boston baseball team. Now available in softcover and in ebook on Amazon.com.

Red Sox Cannot Forget the Recent Past

 DATELINE: HUMOR!

 

 

Like Marley’s Ghost, a haunting spirit is waiting for us in the bleachers.

 

Jon Lester remains the same pitcher he was with Josh Beckett. They were peas in a pod.

 

And now, with Beckett far from the garden, Lester continues to be the same guy.

 

When he was here, Jose Iglesias was dunned and dismissed as an all-glove, no hit phenom whose bat at .400 was a fluke, doomed to failure.

 

So, he was traded and replaced with two inept people whose names we could not keep straight: Brandon Holt and Byron Shelley. Combined, their batting averages could not touch Iglesias.

 

The media hated the hard-working free spirit of Iglesias for his off-field personality, but you will never hear anyone admit it. Give them Big Papi on something.

 

The result was to bring back Will Fair-to-Middlebrooks to hold down third base. The Red Sox motto appears to be, ‘We can’t stand prosperity. Bring back 2011.’

 

To bring back Papelbon, or not to bring back Papelbon seems a moot soliloquy. They will not petition the Lord with prayer, and they will not bring back an overpaid player who loves Boston (unless his name is Ortiz).

 

Pulling on daisy petals, this year is the year Jacoby Ellsbury loves playing. But, we know that next year is his off-season—though many fans believe the Red Sox should pay Adrian Gonzalez money to the on-again, off-again glass unicorn.

 

As the team heads into the ever-dangerous waters of September, we hope we have been misinformed about the fragility of a team on the verge of repeating history.

 

 

 

 

For those wanting to relive the horror, try reading RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY, available on Amazon.com in softcover or e-book.

A Good Day to Kill a Franchise

 DATELINE: MOVIES MASHED!Image

Good Old Bruce!

Bruce Willis has been on a roll for years, making interesting and off beat movies. Now he has returned to the franchise that made him a movie star, Die Hard and its endless sequels.

Unfortunately, with a world of bad guys to pick from, the movie takes the easy way out with non-political drama about Chernobyl (which Willis hilariously compares to Newark, New Jersey).

In terms of plot and character, Willis may as well be playing Molly Goldberg, the mother of the James Bond of Plainville, Jersey. His one-liners are the ultimate chicken soup antidote to the son’s spy problems. He complains repeatedly that he is only on vacation.

As usual, Bruce Willis as McClane has not lost his edge in killing bad guys with dispatch. It’s also hard to tell the bad guys from the worse guys when you’re in Mother Russia. No one knows or cares when you blow up stuff in Chernobyl.

If Willis is long in the tooth, he is making a cottage industry in movies like RED and RED 2 in playing old hard cases. Another hard old case Sylvester Stallone just fired Willis from Expendables 3 for being too greedy.

If you can take the endless noise and pointless shootouts, care chases and crashes, you may enjoy a few Willis bon mots. If this movie is meant to pass the torch to a new generation, let the larks bravely fly away.

Now that this is out of his system, we hope Bruce returns to the quirky stuff with real character and interesting story. We have had it watching 65-year-olds acting like teenagers on steroids.

The movie lost its appeal with overkill for the guy who kills bad guys.

 

 

You may enjoy MOVIE MASHUP or MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE!  Both are available in softcover and ebook on Amazon.com.

David Ortiz Does His Godzilla Imitation Again!

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Like the proverbial Shakespearean queen, David Ortiz doth protest his innocence too much.

When heinous criminals caught on tape plead not guilty to a judge, you have to laugh.

Apparently multi-millionaire David Ortiz is joining the miscreants who are deep down innocent.

A few weeks ago, Ortiz nearly decapitated Dustin Pedroia, an innocent by-sitter in the dugout. Ortiz went for the phone to the bullpen like a bat out of hell.

After striking out, deservedly so, Ortiz felt deeply disrespected. He is the great Big Papi, and he only strikes out when he swings and misses three times. No umpire is allowed the discretion to say he saw a strike over the plate.

Ortiz seems oblivious to the notion that respect is a two-way street.

He has in recent years started showing signs of disrespecting everyone else. He certainly upstaged his manager Tito Francona at least once on camera. He has stormed off from reporters who dare to ask why he was on a illegal users of something or other.

Now he appeals a $5000 fine for destroying property. In the real world he would be arrested for vandalism and attempted mayhem.

In baseball he is merely another loser who gets away with his crime. Just ask Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez.

What is $5000 to stop the story and end the conversation? That amount is likely what Ortiz earns for taking one pitch on the outside corner of the plate.

Ortiz thinks he is the benighted Godzilla, sympathetic for his destruction because the world made him mad.

 

To read more about David Ortiz, try RED SOX 2012: BOBBY VALENTINE’S SEASON IN HELL, available in softcover and ebook on Amazon.com.

Morgan Magic Revisited on Silver Anniversary

DATELINE: HUMOR!Roger

We seem to have missed commenting on Morgan Magic.

Yes, we were there 25 years ago to experience the amazing turnaround of a team that had grown somewhat moribund.  There were some top-level players like Roger Clemens and Dewey Evans, but the lingering hangover from losing Carleton Fiske and the ownership troubles disappeared.

We had a respite when local GM Lou Gorman brought in local coach Joe Morgan as an interim manager. Yet, like Ironman Lou Gehrig, he came in and had to stay.

Morgan still lives in the area and is still the same man, a bit older. In a lovely gesture, the Red Sox acknowledged the anniversary of the Morgan era.

And, to truly make it memorable, some of the magical players showed up. In years past, they would have been members of an Old-Timers game, but no one does that anymore.

Now the old players come and wave at the Fenway faithful, perhaps for one last time. There was white haired Dewey Evans and grizzled Oil Can Boyd. There was Lee Smith and others we had not thought of in years.

Yet, one player showed up in a uniform he wore in the movie Cobb when he played Christy Matthewson. There in the flesh was Roger Clemens.

Our irritation and disgust seem to be abating because we were simply pleased he came back to honor old Joe Morgan. If Roger were acting to rehab his image, he had done well–except when he professed he liked A-Rod as a teammate.

Isn’t that what nostalgia is all about?

Jake Peavy Turns Heads with Good Manners

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We became a fan of Jake Peavy after his first Red Sox start.

No, we are not a fickle fan who simply was blown away by his remarkable hard throwing. Yes, we were impressed by his crosshairs approach to the plate.

We were amused by his self-talking pep rally mentality. He seemed to scold himself harder than the Boston press corps at its worst.

And, no, he did not talk to the baseball like it was a personified partner in crime.

No, we were not taken in by the fact that he looks like Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker, or better yet as the new guy with the Bourne Legacy.

We liked Jake Peavy in one moment for doing a minor action that seems lost in the series of arrogant Texas pitchers the Red Sox have put on the mound for what seems like a decade.  Leave it to Peavy to eliminate our pet peeve.

Of course, we like him because he may actually put the Red Sox into the forefront of the playoff picture.

Our reason for liking him and becoming an instant fan had to do with his finish after reaching the seventh inning.

For years we have observed the crowd behind first base stand up and applaud a good effort by a Sox pitcher. Both rookie and veteran hurlers make a dour quick step to the dugout and usually ignore the fans.

It was not always thus. In years past, the pitcher would politely doff his cap to the appreciative fans.  We have not seen this gesture by a Red Sox pitcher in years.

Mr. Peavy received one of the most exuberant ovations of recent memory, and he gallantly lifted his cap to the adoring fans and mouthed a hardy hiyo “Thank you,” to the paying customers.

Yes, Jake Peavy, we lift our cap to you and wonder how many of the other starters gave notice to this gesture of etiquette and goodwill.

 

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